I bought this several years ago when my aging body started to rebel at schlepping heavy FG or plastic canoes around the woods. The light weight makes for easy portaging especially for daytrips or overnights and was a major selling point. We tried other makes of canoe in the same range but this was the best for us. We've never regretted that decision.
Last year an issue arose with some deterioration of the clear gelcoating. Long story short, Bill Swift took the canoe back to Ontario (I just had to get it to NY) where they completely refinished the hull coating at THEIR expense. Bill thought it shouldn't have happened and he was going to fix it. Because of discoloration of the kevlar they coated it in the Champagne gelcoat. Result: I now have a Mattawa that looks brand new. Colour me impressed by this level of customer service.
Bottom line: if you want an excellent canoe made by a man who stands behind his product 100% I don't know how you'd beat a Swift.
During the Summer of 2009 my then 7 year old son and I used a 15 foot Peterborough Cedar strip canoe on a 4 day canoe trip with our good friends and neighbors who took along their new Swift Winisk 17'6". While on our trip, we were constantly finding ourselves paddling 4 strokes to their effortless 1 just to keep up with them. Not to mention the BIG WAVES we ran into on the East end of Ralph Bice Lake while heading into a VERY STRONG West wind. Our friends rounded the corner first into the open water where they were met by the 3 foot rollers first. We just hung back a bit to watch them cross cut through them with complete ease and stability. At that very moment I knew I was sold on the Swift design and had to have one!!
Fast forward to 2010, we once again found ourselves on a Algonquin canoe trip with our neighbors, but this time be both took our new Swift canoes. My 8 year old son and I in our new Mattawa and Brian and his son in their Winisk. What a difference in joy, speed, stability and safety we experience! On the last day of our 4 day trip, we meet a fierce West wind on Smoke Lake just after finishing the Kootchie Lake portage. The portage was just being pounded by 3 foot plus waves where we needed to put-in on Smoke. Having pushed the front adjustable seat all-the-way forward, along with our two packs positioned, one in front of the bow seat and the other behind. And I only having my 40 lb., eight year old son in the bow seat, my only worry was that we did not have enough weight in the boat. Being that we choose to buy our Swift Mattawa in Kevlar Fusion with carbon/Kevlar integrated gunwales, our boat only weight-in at a super light 35 lb. +, so we needed more weight. Brian’s son Tristan piped up and offered up one of their packs, since they had a longer boat and both out weighting us. All loaded and balanced up, we shoved off! I knew we were in for a paddle and that our new Mattawa could handle it, but what a pleasant surprise to see our Mattawa perform!!! I was watching the tree line as we paddled and were never stopped moving forward, despite the heavy West wind and waves we were padding into. Oh, and for those of you who know Smoke Lake in Algonquin, their wasn’t a single motor boat out on the Lake that day to give you an idea of the conditions. Well, except for the O.P.P (Ontario Provincial Police) jet boat that met us at the landing and gave my son a t-shirt for wearing his life jacket.
Bottom line, we love our Swift Mattawa!! First, because we know we can count on it to perform to enjoy and second, we know we can count on it to perform to keep us safe when we need it to!!! Can’t wait until 2011, thank you Swift!!!!
We've been out once in windy conditions, sometimes with gusts. The boat tracks well and is easy to turn. The lower profile allows it to ride under the wind. At the same time, we found it was possible to find a sweet spot where the boat would lean against the wind and with synchronized paddle strokes we didn't need to correct.
We bought this boat as a daily tandem for me and my wife as well as occasional overnight trips. I will also use it a a solo tripping canoe. I still need to try it out seriously as a solo. Overall, we think it will do a great job.
I must say good things about the people at the Muskoka Swift Canoe shop. I went there thinking I wanted a Prospector 16. They advised me that I would find it's a big boat, specially in the wind and specially solo. They said a Mattawa or Kiappawa may be better suited for our intended uses. I tried the P16 anyway. I came back from my test paddle and asked them to talk to me about the other two canoes. That's when I decided to buy the Mattawa, and glad I did. I have a little gripe though. They charged me a one day rental fee for trying out a canoe for one hour. I thought it was a little harsh. I went along with it because I was intent to leave with a new boat. If I hadn't bought a boat, I would have never gone back. I think this is a policy they should revisit.
I give it a 9 because I want to take more time with the boat and come back later with another review and possibly keep the 10 for next time. Specially after I've given it a serious solo paddle. Also, I want to see how the canoe will stay dry in bigger waves given the low profile.
The Mattawa was better to paddle than all of these hulls. I found it faster than the Adirondack, Spirit II and Solo Plus. It was also as maneuverable as or better than any of the hulls. Yes, you did read that correctly, the 15'8" Mattawa is faster than the Spirit II - 17'. This might sound funny but I believe this is b/c of the bow rocker which causes the bow wave to start around where the bow paddler is sitting, further down the boat rather than the bow stem. The boat has some of the most responsive maneuverability for a flatwater boat that I've ever been in. This boat will not have the capacity for very long trips but as long as one isn’t bringing the kitchen sink, weeklong expeditions should be ok.
The versatility of this boat is amazing combining a great tandem hull with a kneeling thwart will prove to the most skeptical its possibilities as a solo hull as well. I would advise against a center seat and stick with the kneeling thwart but that’s just my preference. The seats are very comfortable but I am not a big fan of their contour yoke. It is very pretty to look at but it doesn’t fit my neck very well.
As another reviewer commented, the stability of this boat is nothing short of incredible. I suggested it to an elderly couple who live near me and paddle with from time to time and they decided to try it. They came back the same afternoon with a champagne/burgundy two tone with cherry trim. It blew mine away (merely forest green). It had to be one of the prettiest composite boats I’ve ever seen. I have been impressed with Swift in general, their dealers and company are great to deal with (even meeting Bill) and would suggest this boat to anyone.